Here be Midnight

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Spring Cleaning In Autumn

As often happens, the urge to prepare for Winter grows stronger at this time of year. The need to make things clean and comfortable for the hibernation time ahead.
This year it seems to have extended to The Old Burrow website.
While not much has been happening at the surface here, a lot has been happening below ground...

I have felt a change happening for a while now and to be honest I think it is still in progress. I write as much as I paint these days - a restriction and probably a gift of the ill health that I have been passing through. Last time I was very ill was over 14 years ago and that was the time I learnt to draw and paint - because there was literally nothing else I could do. So I like to assume it is a rough but guiding hand from life to grow in a certain direction. Lets see how it turns out....

Meanwhile you might like to take a look at the website. There are a few new pages to meander through and a bit of a new direction in that the Imagination seems to be as much a focus as the gifts it brings. I love the quote from John Keats...

'Imagination is a Monastery and I am its Monk'

A rough sketch - more bears and ruffs and stars.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

A Cloak of Velvet Darkness

I don't honestly know why I keep painting stars, but they appear in my drawings and paintings just as effortlessly as my dog appears by my side, wherever I walk, or sit.

It's a quiet appreciation. One that I wear next to my skin, usually covered up by the thick garments of everyday activities and conversations.

I have half-heartedly looked into the meaning and symbolism of stars but these days I have less enthusiasm for the type of brain bending research and analysis of which I will more than likely never be certain.

More absurdly is the fact that I rarely see them. When the stars are shining in their cloak of velvet darkness I'm very often sitting by the fire sipping chai and watching something nostalgic and spacious on the telly.

But I know they are there, I never forget. Shining homecoming jewels that decorate the canopy above our tiny smoking chimney-pot in the woods. They remind me of my smallness amidst the magic of the universe and there is something about feeling small in Natures miraculous vastness that leads me to feel whole and centred.

So maybe, on reflection, I do know why I paint stars so often and why I like the characters to hold their soft gentle light in their hands - little portraits of wisdom and contentment, magic in the mundane, the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I'm fairly sure this is yet another illustration for the slow growing tale 'Troll Song'. In this chapter Unn has grown a little and has voyaged across the seas to foreign shores in search of the wise folk who dwell in woods in may places across the Underworld. She is becoming fearless and content in her homeless wanderings and the stars who have watched her journey across both worlds cannot help but want to be near her...

'Starlight danced in her hair as day settled into night. Her heart ached with both beauty and sadness."Show me" he said. And so she did ...'

A chessboard floor - inspired by Alice through the looking glass

Oh starlight,
What is it that binds you to my eyes?
That makes me remember what I am
And forget all Otherness

My heart flickers as softly
as a well settled home-fire
And I glow from deep within my being.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Sidetracked by a Bear and a Red Flower from the Universal Imaginarium

Creativity moves sideways, it is by its very nature almost always unexpected as the mind gives way to that special place that allows things to flow without reason or judgement. I guess that's why we love it so much. Time out from that mind of restricted being and hey presto, the world is full of magic again. From this space every creation in this Universal Imaginarium is wonderous in its own right and joy returns, and from my perspective sanity too.

Last blog post I mentioned my having to get to grips with my pencil again...literally a new grip. When one finger refuses to play ball, well I have nine others to use. Not easy but possible. So I did start the painting and it is, for now, going reasonably well. But, because it is slower than usual, creativity exploded in another direction and so little sketches appeared and then a little paint. And, so I told myself, it's only a little one - 10cm x 10cm - and gave in.

In truth it's always been this way, two or three pictures going at once, two or three books. The creative juices nibbling away at blank paper as and when it feels to do so.

So here is the Bear and the red flower that drew me into the woods again.

 I'm not sure what it is called yet - the amount of puns available to play with are endless. The first to arrive was 'Bear my Soul', then there was 'Bear with me' and courtesy of my daughter 'Bearer of Good News'.

A little edit -  It's decided - I found the poem I wrote at the time it was painted...

Bear my Soul

In all the world
I love our solitude the best
the deep warm dark
of this long forgotten
brings my heart to its resting place
 and you bear
and all the world
'is' my soul.

Oh, and just a little sneak peek at the bigger one still in progress...

Friday, 18 January 2019

The Story Keepers Tent

I love the idea of stories being held safely somewhere, held back for their right time to be spoken or read or listened to. There is such a sense of a journey within a story for me, I guess that it is no great leap to feel that there must be a certain readiness to embark on a particular journey - in spirit if not in practical terms.

Many years ago I painted this picture called 'The Story Keepers' ...

... and now, in this slow time where I cannot paint as much as I'd like, I have returned to writing and the role of the Story Keeper has deepened and widened.

Some of you may remember the slowly forming tale which for now is called Troll song. Many chapters on now, the Story Keeper has made his appearance. His character has only just begun to form but already I can appreciate his guardianship of story and the difference between him and a storyteller. He is an overseer of story, a facilitator of journeys, an adept traveller to other realms. He is the link between people and the stories and story tellers they need, I guess you could say he's a kind of medicine man of Story.

He no longer has a balloon shaped dress, he is more the beard and cloak kind of character now and I am looking forward to getting to know him better.

In his possession is a small tent which I think hold some of his belongings, and, though I'm not quite sure what they might be I'm fairly certain that they will not be ordinary. 

There is still quite some pain in my body that prevents me from drawing as much as I'd like, my drawing hand has lost all its cartilage in my usual drawing fingers so I am having to learn to adjust my grip but I remain hopeful and positive that things will work out as they are meant to.

So here is a sketch of the Story Keeper's tent and some little details form the work in progress that I hope will become a painting before long...

" You must give birth to your images
They are the future waiting to be born.
Fear not the strangeness you feel.
The future must enter you long before it happens.
Just wait for the birth, for the hour of new clarity."

Rainer Maria Rilke